Let's talk about Light Novel Harems


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    I read a lot of light novels, and quite of a few of them are isekai harems. Realist Hero, Smartphone, Hachinan, Death March, etc...

    I've noticed a bit of a problem though, in particular when I stop reading a specific title because I've finished the most recent chapter, but then come back to it later when more are released...

    I can't remember half of the female cast. They all kind of just blend together. So many of the girls feel like they're barely fleshed out, just a quick collection of quirks and tropes. I try to remember them by their role in the story, but many times the girls don't really serve much of a purpose in moving forward the plot other than just to be a love interest/harem member.

    Not all of them, of course. There are at least one or two girls in each harem that are more fleshed out and have important roles to play in the story... but it feels like a good half of them are just paper thin and utterly forgetable.


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    A lot of harem books / anime are comedic (and even if they aren't comedic, the harem parts are comic relief). Comedy kind of lends itself to tropes.


  • Member

    That's why there is Rokujouma because all of them are really important and no one will be left behind because they are always together.


  • Premium Member

    Stories can only have so many characters in the spotlight at a time. Usually that's the protagonist, antagonist, and a couple supporting characters. In a large harem, let's say 5 or more, that means most of the girls will have little more cameos or me-too moments where they come along for the ride, because there's no technical way that many characters can take the stage. You can only show one thing at a time through words.

    As for the girls being troperific, I think that's a hallmark of Japanese otaku writing. The tropes give the character a stronger flavor, but those flavors are seen in a lot of stories. Just a thought, but I think Japanese VAs play along with this. It's not so much that a VA will voice a character but voice a trope. Like you might get Rei Kugimiya's tsundere screech (i.e. Louise from Zero no Tsukaima) or Mami Noto's mom voice (Elsa from Re:Zero). After they got that basic voice down, they adjust for the scene.



  • Having more female cast its mean more selling stuff right?
    I believe the editor or the publisher have involved to push the author bring new character, especially female character on each volume.

    The worst thing is when the author not experienced in manage many characters as the story goes, as you said you will hardly remember those minor characters.


  • Premium Member

    Keep in mind the majority audience for light novels. Teen males. Yeah. Girls are essential.


  • Premium Member

    @paul-nebeling said in Let's talk about Light Novel Harems:

    Keep in mind the majority audience for light novels. Teen males. Yeah. Girls are essential.

    I think guys are pretty satisfied with one or two best gals though. No need for 7-10 partners and a new female character every volume.

    Do guys get upset when their best gals pair with a dude who isn't the Main Character? Because I'd like more shipping in my LNs.



  • @terrence said in Let's talk about Light Novel Harems:

    Do guys get upset when their best gals pair with a dude who isn't the Main Character? Because I'd like more shipping in my LNs.

    No quite the opposite, I like the ones where a girl gets NTRed away from the MC, maybe even when the MC is watching powerless in the corner of a room, maybe the MC asked for it because that’s what the girl wants and he just wants her to be happy...

    Then again I am not talking about light novels anymore.


  • Premium Member

    Yes, what Terrence said, moar ships need to sail! The MC doesn't have to be the only guy in the story to potentially get into a relationship while everyone else is celibate. I'd love a harem story where his butt of all the jokes mate grows up a bit and gets a girlfriend for real. In the status quo rules/MC can't choose type of harem it'd be a great contrast to have a normal relationship to observe next to the dysfunctional haremshite.


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    @terrence I think it's more about the skill of the writer in handling multiple girls interacting with the male lead than the actual number of girls. Rokujouma and Smartphone both have (nominally) nine girls in the harem, but Takehaya (Rokujouma) does a much better job of writing that many girls than Fuyuhara (Smartphone). Other than for comedic purposes, adding a bunch of girls to the story requires skillful writing.


  • Member

    Balancing character relevancy between current story line and overall story line is important. You just cannot discard character after you use it just once. They have to get a role beside providing conflict for their own story.



  • Aren't you forgetting I Saved Too Many Heroines?? That series adds 2-3 girls in every single book, but most of them have kept being sort of relevant to the plot, with the MC taking advantage of his extremely diverse roster of haremettes. Haven't yet started vol. 7 though, and the Heroines from vol 5 have yet to shine since vol 6 was mostly short stories.


  • Premium Member

    @paulnamida Back in the October catch-up, the month was ending, and I had to choose between Neechu, Siskan, and Apocalypse. I ended up going with Neechu, but after finishing it, I wonder if maybe I should have gone with Apocalypse.


  • Premium Member

    It hurts that a number of Light Novels appear to be written by straight men who’ve never had a girlfriend. There are some lines written that I can never imagine any woman I know speaking.


  • Premium Member

    I guess I will put in my own comment here that is related but kinda off topic cuz I can. when it comes to LN and anime I tend to put Harem into 3 broad categories (yes I am the type of guy who would break down a Genre or Tag into categories, I have a whole thing about Fanservice too).
    a) True Harems aka Multiple lovers.
    b) One-sided Harem aka girls like MC but not other way
    c) Platonic Harem aka MC surrounded by Girls but (most or all) Girls do not like him Romanticly.

    Realist Hero (from what I hear, I have not read much yet) would be True Harem.
    Smartphone is True Harem.
    Hachinan I have no idea.
    Death March would be Platonic Harem (there are some girls who like MC Romanticly and/or Sexualy but most of the girls do not).


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    @smashman42 said in Let's talk about Light Novel Harems:

    Yes, what Terrence said, moar ships need to sail! The MC doesn't have to be the only guy in the story to potentially get into a relationship while everyone else is celibate. I'd love a harem story where his butt of all the jokes mate grows up a bit and gets a girlfriend for real. In the status quo rules/MC can't choose type of harem it'd be a great contrast to have a normal relationship to observe next to the dysfunctional haremshite.

    Quoting myself might be like internet masturbation, but I wrote this thinking of Hiroshi in Demon King Daimaou as I was reading it & he was the butt monkey character, then...



  • @drone205 I'm not sure if you read the Death March web novel or are just following the Yen Press release/the anime so I'll put this in a spoiler tag just in case.


  • Premium Member

    @drone205 Surprisingly, you didn't mention
    Rokujouma, which would meet your definition of true harem, or Mixed Bathing, which I have a hard time hanging a label on.


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    @paulnamida I am following the Yen On releases and I will have you know that when it comes to anime, age does not matter when it comes to Crushes or more likely Sexual urges. The Ryou's work is never done starts out with Dirty Talk with an elementary schooler (It does not matter if it was really sexual in context it is dirty talk) or Black Bullet with its Loli Harem. Age does not matter when it comes to Sexual urges in anime so I include the kids where if I exclude them Death march probably would type b.

    @Paul-Nebeling I have a hard time labelling Mixed Bathing too. from where I am at, Partway in Vol 3, True Harem would be ruled out because the MC does not become lovers with multiple girls (at best he is in a long-distance relationship). I have trouble deciding if the girls like him romanticly or if they just respect him. so for now I would put Mixed Bathing in Platonic Harem (from where I am at in the story)


  • Premium Member

    now I will just list some Harem I know and Will categorize them into my 3 categories.

    Konosuba - Platonic Harem
    Ranma 1/2 - (Special case of one-sided Harem) Web-Harem
    Yona of the Dawn - probably one-sided
    Danmachi - one-sided
    Index - one-sided
    NGNL - Platonic
    Accel World - one-sided
    Monogatari - Hard to say